Lawmaker Seeks Cut In County's Sales Tax On Gas

Day calls for implementing tax cap that would bring savings at the pump.

As gas prices spike above $4 per gallon, a Rockland lawmaker wants the county to give local motorists a break at the pumps.

County Legislature member Ed Day, R-New City, has proposed Rockland put into place a limit on sales taxes collected by the county on gasoline sales. The proposal would base the county’s portion of the tax on a price of $2 per gallon.

The proposal calls for Rockland to use existing power to change the taxes collected on gasoline. Day estimates the change could save local motorists about 9 cents per gallon. However, the change would take at least 90 days to implement, Day said.

“Our residents are hurting and we need to give them a break where ever we can,” said Day, who contends the change would help Rockland County gas stations be a little more competitive with their counterparts just over the New Jersey border, where gas prices can be 30 cents per gallon cheaper — or more — because of lower taxes.

“We are losing tons of business to New Jersey,” said Day. “There are lines of cars to buy gasoline at New Jersey gas stations just over the border and most of those cars have New York plates. We have an opportunity to save our residents a couple of bucks on a fill up here in Rockland.”

With authorization from the state, Rockland in 2006 did cap sales tax collection at $2 per gallon. However, the measure had a “sunset” clause that removed the cap at the end of 2007. That allowed Rockland to budget for an additional $1.8 million in income, Day said.

"With prices now over the $4 per gallon level, consumers in all walks of life are getting slammed, and our tax policies are driving even more Rocklanders to New Jersey,” Day said. “My survey of many gas stations showed a 50 percent and more downturn in gasoline sales, clearly negating any projection of additional sales tax revenue. With a ready, cheaper market just a few miles away, the assumption that a higher rate of taxation will automatically generate more revenue is flawed from both an economic and market perspective. The bottom line is that we do not collect any sales tax on any item that is sold in New Jersey. We need to make every effort to keep our consumers right here in Rockland.”

Ron Levine, communications director for Rockland County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef, said the impact on the county budget from Day’s gas tax proposal is unclear.

“Has Legislator Day ascertained the impact of his proposed sales taxes reduction on county revenues? His press release does not provide that information,” Levine said. “We’d like to carefully review the provisions and
research that are a part of his proposed legislation.”

Levine said Vanderhoef welcomes any constructive suggestions pertaining to ways of improving the county’s fiscal health. However, he said Day’s position on tax revenue for the county has been inconsistent.

“It is ironic that Legislator Day issued a press statement calling for a reduction in the gasoline sales tax several months after issuing a press advisory criticizing the Executive Branch for overestimating sales tax, vehemently noting at the time that the ‘overestimation of sales taxes’ resulted in a deficit in general fund,” Levine said.

Rockland County Legislator Ed Day April 28, 2011 at 11:14 AM
As a matter of fact, I did look at what the taxable cost of gasoline was back in the Fall of last year which this year's budget ostensibly is based on, and placing a cap should have a negligible effect of projected revenues UNLESS the County Executive somehow knew gas was going to be over $4 per gallon back then. And of course, the "lost revenue" of hordes of consumers crossing the border should be factored in also, as the last time I looked, a gas fill up; clothes purchase; whatever, that occurs in New Jersey does not generate ONE penny of sales tax revenue here in Rockland ... unless there is some sort of secret tax sharing deal going on between Gov. Christie and Scott Vanderhoef! To paraphrase Mr. Levine ... Has County Executive Vanderhoef ascertained the impact on county revenues as all his shoppers flee to New Jersey to shop?
Rockland County Legislator Ed Day April 28, 2011 at 11:14 AM
On one point, Mr. Levine is absolutely correct; there has been criticism about revenue projections at budget time. They included presuming revenue from things such as red light cameras; hotel taxes; and cell phone taxes just to name a few ... all "projections" included in his proposed budget and revenue sources that were never coming to fruition. And the criticism has come many sources; our auditors; the media; and pretty much the entire legislature. I quote the record from the report of the Budget and Finance Committee Dec. 7th, 2010 ... "Therefore the projected combined total shortfall for sales and mortgage taxes in 2010, this year, is estimated to be $16,350,000. In other words, taken together, calendar years 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and projected 2010, show that the administration overestimated sales tax revenue by a total of $69,722,973, which is more then the property tax we are going to raise in 2011, and mortgage tax revenue by $11,989,056 for a total revenue shortfall in six years in the amount of $81,712,029, which has resulted in a general fund operating deficit carried forward to calendar year 2011." Really ... over $80 million dollars of overestimation? And the County Executive is now worried about 10 cents a gallon getting put back in your pocket? 10 cents by the way that should have never been taken out of your pocket in the first place. When does overtaxation end?
Scott Walters April 28, 2011 at 02:11 PM
Bigger issue is this...the refineries have to produce over 35 different formulas of gasoline for sale to different parts of the country. Imagine the cost reduction if we had just one regular, mid grade and high test.....hmmmm
Terri Thal April 30, 2011 at 08:33 PM
The most effective way to get legislation passed is by generating support from one's legislative colleagues before introducing a proposal. I'd like to know which other county legislators support Mr. Day's proposed County sales tax cap on gasoline. Terri Thal
Chauncy Tillinghast April 30, 2011 at 08:41 PM
Past budgets by Vanderhoef were nothing short of fraud and deception and the only Legislator to call attention to this travesty was Ed Day. Under Vanderhoef we now have the distinction of being the 5th highest taxed County in the Country. Mr Levine, a political hack, should be ashamed of falsely accusing Day. He got his job from Vanderhoef without it being advertised or offering it to the public. He was annointed by this incompetent County Exec. who was beaten badly when he ran against a 29 year old neophyte for State Senate. Now he sends Lackey Levine out to take another few dollars from taxpayers. Disgraceful!
Chauncy Tillinghast April 30, 2011 at 08:42 PM
Thank you Mr. Day!
Chauncy Tillinghast April 30, 2011 at 08:45 PM
Political hacks like Lackey Levine would be against this Scott because the higher the price the more they get in taxes.
Rockland County Legislator Ed Day April 30, 2011 at 08:59 PM
@Chauncy-Thank you for your support and observations on the political aspect of the response from the Executive's office, and @Terri, I am always an email and/or phone call away from you, both of which you have so you can always ask this question personally and directly. But I can certainly answer this question in a public forum, no problem! First off, I am the ONLY member of the Minority who has gotten any local laws passed ... 4 times ... and that does not happen without doing precisely what you mentioned. Laws protecting children and consumers, and am proud that my colleagues in the Majority saw the value of what I was trying to do for our community. So yes, I understand how to be an effective legislator, but you know that already! With respect to this initiative, I got the support from 11 other legislators last time out, passed this same legislation in 2006, and most of them still on the Board. I suspect they are still of a like mind right now. Additionally, some actually encouraged me to re-introduce this. Thanks for raising a very important point.
Rockland County Legislator Ed Day April 30, 2011 at 09:06 PM
Just to clarify ... Of course I meant that I am the ONLY member of the Minority who has gotten any local laws passed over the past 5 years since I took office.
Chauncy Tillinghast May 01, 2011 at 01:07 AM
Mr. Day. It is tough bring a Republicsn in Rockland. Not only are we in the Minority, the leadership is aooaling with Vanderhoef and his lackeys like Hopf and Levine ( Is his job really needed?) driving the County toward ruin and the head of the party facing charges af stealing from a constituent business . You have a difficult task but you handle it well. Thanks for your service to the Vounty.
Rockland County Legislator Ed Day May 01, 2011 at 02:36 AM
And thank you for the kind words and support, Chauncy!
Rockland County Legislator Ed Day October 21, 2011 at 12:27 PM
Terri: An update ... the bill passed Tuesday night by a 13-2 vote with two members who were supportive absent from the proceedings.Take care!
Rockland County Legislator Ed Day October 21, 2011 at 12:29 PM
To all who rang in or have an interest in this issue ... the bill passed Tuesday night by a 13-2 vote with two members who indicated they were supportive absent from the proceedings.


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